Staff Picks for Children

 Recommended books for kids. Comment on a review by clicking on its title. You can also write your thoughts about any book on our Facebook Wall.

You can still access reviews from pre-September 2012 for Adults and Children.

Chu's Day

(2013)
Chu's Day

 

Newbery award winning author Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) has written a sweet tale about a little panda with quite a sneeze.  Chu (as in ah-choo) has one false alarm at the library (be sure to check out what's happening at the card catalog) and another at the diner.  At the circus, Chu can't hold his sneeze back, and the power his sneeze contains is demonstrated at full blast.  The end shows Chu's loving parents putting him to sleep just like any other young panda.  Publisher's Weekly gave this book a starred review.

If you like picture books by Neil Gaiman, try my personal favorite: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.

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Let's Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy

(2012)
Let's Sing a Lullaby With the Brave Cowboy

I love Jan Thomas’ silly, charming books with her bold, colorful comic-style illustrations, from Rhyming Dust Bunnies to Is Everyone Ready for Fun?  Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy is her latest to date, and in my opinion, another hit. The cowboy of the title is actually not so brave; in his attempts to settle his cows down for the night, he interrupts his own lullaby with startled exclamations about what he imagines is lurking in the dark.  The cows calm and reassure him--until, that is,  something really IS in the shadows! What is it?  And does it like lullabies?  Find out!

Easily acted out, this comedy sketch of a story makes a great read-aloud for one or more readers; good for bedtime, storytime, or anytime. For those who love to sing as well as read and laugh, you can listen to and learn the Brave Cowboy’s Lullaby at JanThomasBooks.com   Or make up your own tune, partners!

Recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Chronal Engine

(2012)
Chronal Engine cover

If you like dinosaurs and time travel than this is just the book for you.  It is a fast paced adventure science fiction story perfect for boys and girls that love history, dinosaurs, and time travel.  The action starts on page one and it never ends.  Max and his older brother and sister, twins Kyle and Emma, are sent to stay with their grandfather at his ranch in Texas on the Colorado River while their mother is off studying dinosaurs in Mongolia.  As soon as they arrive, their Grandfather tells them that Emma will be kidnapped, he will have a heart attack, and he has a time machine in the basement.  Now Max, Kyle, and their new friend, Petra, must go back in the time of the dinosaurs in a VW to find Emma.  Can they survive this ancient world with it many prehistoric dinosaurs?  Who is the mysterious Samuel and why was Emma kidnapped in the first place?

Max is curious and observant, and he is more or less the hero in the story.  Max’s knowledge of dinosaurs keeps the reader guessing as to what will happen next.  Max certainly keeps everyone out of hot water and without him they would not have lived in the wild for five minutes.  As we make our way through the story, Max is teaching us about the prehistoric landscape, its inhabitants and how to survive.  We learn interesting and fun facts about the dinosaurs and their surroundings. 

The characters are likeable and the settings bring the past alive.  Boys and girls in grades 4 through 6 will enjoy this story.

I would recommend this book for children in grades 4 through 6.

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Henry and the Cannons

An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution (2013)
Henry and the Cannons

 

In 1775, the British Army had settled in Boston, and General Washington had no way of getting them to leave.  Bookstore owner Henry Knox had the idea to retrieve 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga...in the middle of the winter.  This involved traveling over ice, snow, mountains, woods, lakes, and once in a while there was a road to follow.  After fifty days of traveling from Fort Ticonderoga, Henry arrived in Boston with all 59 cannons. 

On March 17, 1776, the British awoke to see 59 cannons staring down on them and 9000 British soldier fled.  According to the book, they left behind an additional 250 cannons.  A bibliography is included at the back. 

This book received starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal.

 

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Flying the Dragon (2012)

Flying the Dragon

 

 

Skye lives in Virginia with her mother and father. She loves to play soccer and has finally made the All-Star team for the coming summer. Hiroshi lives in Japan with his mother, his father and his grandfather. His grandfather makes kites and his family has a tradition of participating in rokkaku kite battles. This year Hiroshi is finally old enough to enter on his own and his first kite battle is only a month away. Although they have never met, Skye and Hiroshi are cousins and, although they don’t know it, their Grandfather is very sick.

Suddenly, Hiroshi finds himself leaving Japan and moving with his family to the United States seeking treatment for Grandfather. He brings his kite with him, but then Grandfather insists they teach his cousin Skye how to fly it as well.  Meanwhile, Skye’s parents tell her she must spend the summer going to Japanese school instead of playing soccer.  As if that isn’t enough, suddenly the kids at school are teasing her and Hiroshi. Now she has to decide if she’s going to stand up for her cousin or side with her friends to avoid being teased herself.  

Will Skye and Hiroshi be able to get to know each other and put aside their differences in time to enjoy Grandfather’s company? Will Skye find a way to learn Japanese and still play soccer? Will Hiroshi be able to teach Skye enough about kite flying so that she can be his assistant in the rokkaku kite battle at the National Cherry Blossom Festival? As Skye and Hiroshi learn to navigate the changes in their world, they learn that sometimes the same rules that apply to kite flying can be applied to real life.

 

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Love is in the Air

(2012)
Love is in the Air

 

This adorable Penguin Young Readers Level 2 Early Reader about a red balloon and a yellow kite who fall in love is delightful.  The simple, brightly colored illustrations will attract young readers, and the story will soften the hardest of hearts.  The ending makes this librarian hope for some kind of sequel, either with kite and balloon again, or with another set of similar objects falling in love. 

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Clara and Clem Take a Ride

Clara and Clem Take a Ride

 

In this Level 1 Penguin Young Readers book, Clara and Clem start out with blocks.  Through one word statements and short rhymes (Bird! Fly! To the Sky!), the two go on a grand adventure using their big imaginations.  Picture clues help the reader with unfamiliar vocabulary.  Look for the next book, Clara and Clem in Outer Space in September, 2013.  Strongly recommended for the very earliest reader.

 

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Get Ready for Jetty

My Journal About ADHD and Me (2013)
Get Ready for Jetty:

 

In this title published by Magination Press (an imprint of the American Psychological Association), Jetty is new to 4th grade and discovering that 4th grade is not at all what she was expecting. The book is in a diary format, as Jettys 4th grade teacher expects her to keep a diary. She has too much homework, is easily distracted, and is very quick to anger and to becoming upset. Jettys parent take her to a doctor where she is diagnosed with ADHD. At first, Jetty denies the diagnosis. She couldnt possibly have ADHD. She doesnt run around all the time or get in fights, but then recognizes other symptoms in herself. Jetty is a realistic character and readers will like reading about her journey. There are four pages of notes for parents and children with ADHD at the back of the book.

For more books about ADHD, go to this link.

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The Serpent's Shadow

(2012)
bookcover of The Serpent's Shadow

The third and last book of the Kane Chronicles.

This third and final book of the Kane Chronicles is the best of the three.  The saga concludes as Carter and Sadie Kane once again try to save the world from the forces of Chaos. The giant Chaos snake Apophis and his rebel magician allies are on the rise. Luckily, Carter and Sadie Kane are back, ready to fight Apophis and restore Ma'at, the order of the universe.  There are some sub plots that Carter and Amy must face in their quest.  Carter needs to help Zia and Ra; and Amy needs to help Walt and at the same time deal with her emotions about Anubis, the god of funerals and death. 

The title implies the basis for the book’s content.  The Serpent refers to the Chaos snake Apophis.  Amy and Carter must capture the snake’s shadow in order to free the world.  The story moves along quickly and is action-packed.  The gods and heroes (or magicians) must work together to save the world in just a few days.  There is plenty of humor, a little romance, and some crazy outfits in this action-packed fantasy.  Again the story is narrated by both Amy and Carter taking turns in recording the events.

If you have read any of the Kane Chronicles you will warm up to this final book and enjoy reading about Amy and Dan’s determination to fight the forces of evil.  They cannot do it without the help of the Egyptian gods and their friends.

I would recommend this fantasy fiction story about mythology for children in grades 4 – 8.

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Around the Neighborhood:

A Counting Lullaby (2012)
Around the Neighborhood:

 

Around the Neighborhood: a Counting Lullaby is an adaptation of "Over in the Meadow", the classic folk song that was first written down in 1870.  A mother and her baby baby set off for a walk around the neighborhood, and see numerous animals that a child might normally see in their neighborhood, such as cats, crows, bees, or ladybugs.  The illustrations were produced digitally, and are easy to recognize, with bright colors galore.

My only concern about the book is that the words don't always fit the traditional melody very easily.  If you're planning to share this book in storytime, or sing it to a group, be sure to practice ahead of time so as to make the words fit the music, which is included at the back of the book for anyone who doesn't know the song.

Don't forget to also check out my favorite version of the original by Ezra Jack Keats, Over in the Meadow, or the stunning video based upon the book by John Langstaff. 

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Some Babies Are Wild

(2008)
Some Babies Are Wild

April is National Poetry Month!  Celebrate it, the Fox Cities Book Festival, nature, too, with a sweet and simple poem by versatile author Marion Dane Bauer.  Its lines provide the text for this beautiful picture book, with intimate portraits of various wild baby animals and animal families by renowned nature photographer Stan Tekiela (one of the featured authors at this year’s Fox Cities Book Festival).  Tekiela captures on camera many young critters, from slow turtle hatchlings to a frisky cougar kitten; from a soft rabbit kit to prickly porcupettes; from little possums hitching a ride on mother's back, to a black bear cuddling with a cub.  His adorable photos, matched with Bauer’s verse, showcase not only basic differences among animals, but also the common bond of mother and young.  For this reason, I am issuing a CUTE OVERLOAD ALERT for this book.  Curious readers and nature lovers will enjoy the back-of-the-book facts about the animals featured in the photos, including the names for the young, as well as the track shape and pattern of each species.  The book received the Mom’s Choice Award.

Recommended for ages 3-6.

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